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CRM Strategy: The Bridge from Marketing to Sales Leads

In the business to business sales and marketing world, a customer relationship management (CRM) system is a critical tool. A CRM tool allows sales to manage leads and customers through the entire sales funnel, allowing them to scale their business. It enables marketing to track leads from acquisition through the sales process to conversion. In the end marketers can see conversion percentage and speed to conversion for multiple lead sources.

Most CRM strategies are driven by sales leadership. With the primary goal to monitor sales activities and view forecasted sales. Those activities are about 5% of the total capability of a typical CRM system. In the end, because of poor strategic planning, most CRMs become a contact management tool and revenue forecasting system. Significantly less than what they are designed to do.

The reality is for CRM success, the tool must be seen as a cross functional platform which integrates marketing and sales activities. When your CRM strategy is aligned with this vision you can build a bridge between marketing and sales leads, and ultimately pinpoint your marketing efforts around your sales conversions.

Why is this important? Well marketing is like a fisherman. They throw out a big net in specific areas and see what they can bring up. The expense comes with the quality of the net, the size of the net, and the areas you throw the net out. The goal can be quality of fish or quantity of fish. In marketing the goal is quantity of leads or quality of leads. A quality lead is considered a sales lead, which is a person who actively raised his hand with interest in a specific product or service of yours. These leads are harder to get from marketing’s perspective, but much easier to close from sales’ perspective.

Quantity leads are considered marketing leads. With a larger quantity, you generally get people who are interested in stuff relevant to your products or services, but have not raised their hands specific to your product or service. These leads are much easier to get from marketing’s perspective but much harder to close from sales’ prospective. This is the fundamental fuel to the sales/marketing clash in every company – do we go for sales leads or marketing leads.

The CRM system, with the proper integration vision and strategy, bridges this fundamental challenge. Using your CRM system you can set specific drop downs on source, cost of lead, title, function, interest, time received, etc. If marketing and sales communicate on these drop downs and tie them to marketing campaigns and lead outputs, a fabulous thing happens: metrics! The more granular you can get the more detailed metrics. What you are looking for ultimately is conversion data.

What marketing lead sources have the highest conversion percentage? What marketing lead sources have the quickest time to conversion? What sales lead sources have the highest ROI? What sales lead sources have the worst ROI? You can start building a joint sales and marketing strategy based on your organization capabilities and the metrics you receive. Maybe your organization’s marketing group can drive low cost marketing leads. You fine tune the engine’s activities around highest conversion rate. Now your sales team profile changes, in that marketing leads need contact and management and patience. Your sales team, dealing with large quantities of marketing leads, needs to be detail oriented and have great follow up and tracking skills. Maybe your sales team percentage on sales leads is 80% or higher. Your marketing team will need to organize around generating those leads, which usually means higher cost per activity and more research and planning around the activities. This means a different type of marketing team, budget and expected return.

At the center of this is the CRM system, supporting decision making and organizational make up of both the marketing and sales team based on the metrics provided. This can only happen with shared vision and proper implementation. The reality is the marketing vs. sales lead debt between sales and marketing organization will never end. In the end you will never know which is more important because there is no guide. And the right way might be based on organizational capability or your industry or your marketing vehicles. But if you deploy your CRM with a shared marketing and sales vision, you can extract conversion data based on lead source, time to close and revenue on close. In turn, you will more successfully plan the type of leads marketing goes after and the type of sales team needed based on the best leads generated.

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